Social Science: Philosophical and Methodological Foundations

By Gerard Delanty | Go to book overview

4
Communication and
Pragmatism: Habermas,
Apel and the Renewal of
Critical Social Science

Introduction: Social Science and Discourses of Modernity

The positivist dispute can be characterized as having three major interventions. The first was the turn to a post-empiricist science from a point within natural science and which broadly accepted the framework of positivism conceived of as a methodology. The most important representative of this was Popper whose critical rationalism set the terms for a post-empiricist philosophy of science, but one which preserved the unity of science while rejecting the unity of its subject matter: social and natural facts were two separate domains and science can be only methodologically critical but not socially critical. The second rupture was the interpretative turn from its origins in the hermeneutical and neo-Kantian tradition from Dilthey to Weber, which argued for a separation of the human sciences from the natural sciences. Weber sought to combine explanation and understanding into a unified interpretative but value free social science. The third was the recovery of critique by neo-Marxism but especially critical theory from Adorno and Horkheimer to Marcuse, who argued for a normative or emancipatory social science. These three discourses on social sciences - explanation and description, understanding and interpretation, and critique and emancipation - were in their unique ways discourses of

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